The Adjunct to American Power

Many years ago, when I was growing up in Rhodesia, it was quite normal to hear white people being openly racist in the presence of non-white people. Not all white people behaved that way, you understand (my parents, for example, never did), but quite a few did. Very often the racism was not intended maliciously. For example, a group of white people might be calmly discussing something within the hearing of black servants, say, and if they wanted to refer to black people they would use the word ‘kaffirs’ or, ‘munts’ or ‘jiggaboos’ even, completely indifferent to the fact that a black person could hear them.

This is just one, quite small feature, of having absolute power. At the time it was completely normal, not just in Rhodesia, but pretty much anywhere else in the whites-run world, for white people to behave this way – and for black people to ignore it, quite possibly to sometimes not even notice it. Comedians, for example, routinely included racist material in their work, and white people laughed at it in their hundreds of millions.

I was reminded of this little ‘perk’ of absolute power a couple of days ago. I was browsing the history section of the International Monetary Fund’s website, and was reading their glowing tribute to Harry Dexter White – pretty much the founder of the IMF.

The IMF is arguably the most powerful non-military force on the planet, and understanding a bit about it is therefore quite useful. It was created in the closing stages of World War Two. The old king (the British Empire) was dying, and the new king (the American Empire) was fidgeting impatiently in the wings looking at his watch. As their representatives gathered at Bretton Woods to carve up the planet, the final showdown occurred between White (for the new king) and John Maynard Keynes (for the dying one). This is how the dispute is described by the IMF’s website:

Where the two founding fathers differed most was on the third theme: how independent and how powerful should the IMF be? To Keynes, what the world needed was an independent countervailing balance to American economic power, a world central bank that could regulate the flow of credit both in the aggregate and in its distribution. To White, what was needed was an adjunct to American economic power, an agency that could promote the balanced growth of international trade in a way that preserved the central role of the U.S. dollar in international finance.

As the old king was in his final death throes it’s perfectly understandable that Keynes should have been such a passionate advocate for an ‘independent’ counterbalance to the new young upstart (ten years earlier it’s highly unlikely the thought would have crossed Keynes’ allegedly powerful mind). But now it was all too late, and there was never any doubt about whose view would prevail, so the ‘adjunct to American power’ was born.

It’s that little phrase ‘adjunct to American power’ that took me back to my Rhodesian childhood. When you have absolute power you can afford to be completely indifferent about casual expressions of that power.

Most people have no idea what the IMF is. And if they were to give it any thought at all they might say it’s some sort of international organisation – like the United Nations – and that its decisions are probably made by all sorts of different countries. I mean, it’s called ‘International’ isn’t it?

Those of us actively engaged in the War On Error are fairly used to the glazed expressions we see in people’s eyes when we start yet another rant about the real threat to world peace. You can see them thinking: “Here he goes again: more conspiracy theory.” So it’s always quite pleasant to see our opinions reinforced and confirmed by the Empire itself. After all, you can’t get much better than the IMF’s very own website admitting that it was originally designed as an ‘adjunct to American power’. As my dictionary defines ‘adjunct’ to be something that is ‘subordinate or incidental (to or of another)’, it’s fairly clear to even the dullest mind that the IMF is a very long way from being the independent economic policeman its servants and supporters claim it to be.

The activities of the IMF’s employees seldom make the evening ‘news’; which is a bit of shame because these busy people are invariably jetting around the planet where they are often engaged in something they call ‘Article IV Consultations’. A quick glance at the ‘News’ section of the website shows what I mean. Just this week, for example, these busy people are having their ‘Article IV Consultations’ everywhere from New Zealand to Senegal; from Zimbabwe to Switzerland. What’s Article IV? It’s about the IMF’s rules on currency exchange rates. Now whilst I don’t question the principle that “someone” ought to be doing this, I strongly question that it should be those working for an ‘adjunct to American power’.

Like the racist society of my early childhood that never thought for one second about casually using the word ‘kaffir’, we now live in a society that doesn’t think for one second about the implications of the world’s most powerful non-military institution casually referring to itself as an ‘adjunct to American power.’

Some might argue that is all now ancient history – that it might have been the view of Mr White, but we now live in far more enlightened times – just as white people would now no longer refer to black people as ‘kaffirs’… except for one small glitch.

The tribute about Mr White was written relatively recently, in 1998, and is still on the IMF website today. The piece concludes with these words: “What remains of his [White’s] legacy is the International Monetary Fund, which still bears his imprint more than any other’s.”

John Andrews is a writer and political activist based in England. His latest booklet is entitled EnMo Economics. Other Non-Fiction books by John are: The People's Constitution (2018 Edition); and The School of Kindness (2018 Edition); and his historical novel The Road to Emily Bay Read other articles by John.

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  1. MichaelKenny said on May 28th, 2010 at 10:40am #

    The silver lining in all this is that the American power to which White wanted the IMF to be an adjunct is collapsing. Soon enough, the whole problem will be academic.

  2. Rehmat said on May 28th, 2010 at 6:06pm #

    Interestingly, it was US President Jimmy Carter who refused to recognized the first Black government of prime minister Bishop Abel Muzorewa (a Methodist) in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), which replaced the White-ruled government of Ian Smith in 1979. Jimmy Carter kept US sanctions against Bishop Muzorewa. In 1980, Robert Mugabe came to power with the help of Swiss-based World Council of Churches (WCC) and National Council of Churches (NCC). In 1973, the NCC had hailed Mugabe’s guerrillas as “co-workers with God”. He imprisoned Bishop Muzorewa in 1983 for allegedly consipring with Israel and South Africa for the ‘regime-change’ and recognize the Zionist entity.

    Both Israel and South Africa supported the Rhodesian White government with arms and military training during the African resistance against the White rule. Though Mugabe established relations with PLO in 1983 – he maintained trade relations with the Zionist entity. According to the Online Journal (December 18, 2008): “Zimbabwean Opposition blames Israel more than China for propping up Mugabe with security assistance and military equipment”. In return for support for Mugabe, Israel had access to Zimbabwe’s gold and diamond resources, as well as those in Congo over which Zimbabwe has control. Zimbabwe broke diplomatic relations with Israel after later’s Dec-Jan 2009 Gaza genocide.